PDF iconPhD. Student Handbook - Literacy, Culture, and Language Education


Current Graduate Students

Tamar Bernfeld

Ph.D. Program

I received my MA in Applied Linguistics and graduate certificate in TESOL from the University of Pittsburgh.  Over the past 20 years, I have taught English to Speakers of Other Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, the University of Iowa, and Kirkwood Community College. Additionally, I have worked as a writing consultant at the Writing Center at Pitt, the Writing Resource in the U of Iowa’s Graduate College of Education, as well as the Writing Center at Kirkwood. I have also taught composition and various writing centered courses at these universities. My professional and academic interests include working with multilingual writers as they transition from English support courses to other academic writing contexts, exploring the ideas, practices, and implications related to notions of “Standard” English in academic writing, and examining White, monolingual privilege in the context of English teacher education.

Yue Chen

Ph.D. Program

I earned an M.Ed. in foreign language education from the University of Pittsburgh. After a few years of teaching Chinese at Allderdice High School and Pittsburgh Chinese school, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa. Some of my research interests are technology-based language teaching and learning, language policy and planning in Multilingual China, and curriculum design. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, playing tennis and baking.

Nathan DePuy

Ph.D. Program

I am from upstate New York where I completed a dual Bachelor's degree program at Hartwick College with majors in French, Spanish, Global Studies and a minor in Piano Performance. After, I graduated from the Master's program in French and Francophone World Studies at the University of Iowa where I taught introductory Spanish and French language and culture courses. Currently, I am a part of the PhD program in Literacy, Culture and Language Education and the Master's program in Educational Measurement and Statistics. My research interests include advocacy for multilingual students in the U.S. public school system, especially concerning ethical assessment and representing those with special learning needs.

Janet Francisco

Ph.D. Program

Originally, I am from Brazil, where I received my B.A. in English and Literature. Here in the United States, I received my master’s degree also in English and Literature. After earning my M.A, I started teaching ESL to adults, and I have been teaching for more than a decade. The experience of working with ESL students and being a non-native speaker of English myself made me very interested in language acquisition. For this reason, currently,  I am a PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture Program.

Bing Gao

Ph.D. Program

I am from Shandong, China. I earned my bachelor’s degree at the Macau University of Science and Technology and gained an M.Ed. in Foreign Language Education at the University of Pittsburgh. I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at the University of Iowa. I believe that the unparalleled learning experience at the University of Iowa will help me build a solid foundation for my future careers. I have experience teaching Chinese for first-grade students in the U.S. and teaching English for 10-12th grade students in China. My research interests include second language or foreign language acquisition, students’ motivation for language learning, and classroom assessment techniques. When I am free, I am keen on traveling with my friends and listening to pop music.

Karen Goering

Ph.D. Program

I earned a BA and an MA in Hispanic Linguistics and an MAT in Foreign Language Education from the University of Iowa. During the summers I attend Middlebury College, where I am concurrently working on my MA in Spanish Literature (albeit very slowly). After many years teaching high school Spanish in the Chicago suburbs and in Durham, North Carolina, I decided to return to UI to pursue my Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education. I’m most interested in L2 reading, multimodal literacies, curriculum design and materials development. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, binge-watching Spanish-language shows on Netflix, reading comics and graphic novels in Spanish and spending time with my husband and two boys.

Christopher Gras

Ph.D. Program

Prior to attending the University of Iowa, I earned a MA-TESOL from the University of Southern California where I focused on educational technology and language fossilization. After teaching in both intensive and bridge ESL programs as well as performing administrative duties for a number of years in the State University of New York system, I sought an opportunity to teach English overseas. In 2015, I accepted a U.S. State Department Fulbright Fellowship and became an EFL lecturer at Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam Üniversitesi in Southern Turkey. During my year abroad, I designed numerous departmental language assessments and was able to brush up on my Turkish. As a doctoral candidate in the FL/ESL Program, I plan on advancing my understanding of educational technology and second language assessment by conducting research in a field I am passionate about and engaging in meaningful collaboration with others who share similar interests.

Darrin Hetrick

Ph.D. Program

Working with English language learners has been a career I have thoroughly enjoyed over the past 15 years. After getting my B.A. from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, I went to Croatia to teach EFL with a humanitarian aid organization. Upon returning, I pursued my M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton College (IL). From there, my family ventured back to SE Europe—this time to Bosnia where my wife and I directed an EFL program. Throughout my career, I have also had the chance to teach ESL stateside in high schools, refugee resettlement programs, community colleges, and workplaces. Now, at The University of Iowa, I am interested in researching language policy issues, particularly as they relate to refugees in rural areas.

Kwangmin Lee

Ph.D. Program

Hailing from S. Korea, I studied English theoretical linguistics at Kyung-hee University, and completed my M.A in applied linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. Now, with a focus on Second Language Assessment and Educational Measurement, I am pursuing a doctoral degree in ESL and Foreign Language Education at the University of Iowa. My research interests primarily revolve around providing construct validity evidence of integrated language performance, or, a test task that involves and elicits multiple language skills. I am also interested in mixed-methods research as a means to enhance the rigor of data collection and analysis procedures. My current research projects are to analyze the internal structure of Foreign Language Anxiety of L2 learners engaged in an integrated listening-to-speak test task, and to provide an account of the current landscape of L2 assessment in relation to L2 instruction.

Kye Gon Lee

Ph.D. Program

Originally from South Korea, I received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education for Children at Chung-Ang University in Korea. I taught English at the college level in Korea for many years. I also earned an M.A. in Educational Measurement and Statistics from the University of Iowa. As I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa, I am particularly interested in families and communities of multicultural and multilingual learners.

Tasha A. Lindo

Ph.D. Program

Tasha Lindo is currently a PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program and works as a student teacher supervisor. Tasha earned her B.A. in English-education from The University of Iowa. She earned her M.A. in English-literature from The University of Northern Iowa. She has taught 5-12 English courses for the past 15 years. She currently works part-time in the Cedar Rapids School District as a literacy facilitator and ELA support teacher. Her research interests include critical race theory and critical discourse analysis with a specific interest in underprivileged students and equity related issues within schools. She enjoys volunteer work at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Linn-Mar Community School District, and Dogs Forever in Cedar Rapids. She is a mother to four children: Evan, Paxton, Reed, and Gram. She enjoys reading, writing, research, and coffee. She loves staying up late to watch movies with her dearest husband, Chad..

Mengyi Liu

Ph.D. Program

Before attending the University of Iowa, I earned a MAT-TESOL degree from the University of Southern California (USC) where I also taught ESL at the Pre-Master’s Program at the International Academy as a teaching assistant and research observer for my Case Study. Between my undergraduate and graduate studies, I went back to Beijing, where I was born and raised, taught Chinese as a Second Language at the University of Posts and Telecommunications for a year. Currently, I am working as a research assistant for the ACCEL Project and my research interests lies on second language acquisition (SLA), bilingual education, learners’ affective filters, learning investment and motivation. During my free time, I enjoy traveling, hanging out with friends, and watching TV shows.

Yuchen Liu

Ph.D. Program

I am from Nanjing, China. I got my B.A. in English Education in 2012. After graduation, I taught EFL at the high school level in an international institute in Shanghai, China, and I taught college English for Special Purposes in the Nanjing Institute of Industry and Technology. In 2014, I pursued my M.A. in TESOL from Murray State University in Kentucky. I hope to conduct research on language learning for ESL/EFL students with Learning Disabilities (LD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I also volunteer for some local organizations, such as the animal shelter, the writing program, the Chinese program, and the volunteer board. UIowa is an all-around university, I am able to find versatile resources here to enrich my academic and personal life.

Diane Neubauer, 杜雁子

Ph.D. Program

Before coming to UI, I taught Mandarin Chinese in Illinois and Colorado for ten years at elementary, middle, and high school levels. I continue to teach adults mainly online. Language teaching and learning is fascinating. Some of my main interests include language teacher development and coaching, Second Language Acquisition and its relationship to instruction, comprehension-based teaching approaches, and L2 Chinese language development, particularly related to reading Chinese character texts. I have a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Wittenberg University, an M.A. in Religion from Trinity International University, and Chinese language teacher certification in Wisconsin. My husband and I raise backyard hens and enjoy the Iowa countryside.

Alejandro Pérez Belda

Ph.D. Student

I have completed a Masters in Teaching Spanish as a second language in Spain (where I was born and raised) and a Masters in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Iowa. I have also worked as a Dual Language teacher for three years, and I am fluent in both written and conversational English and Spanish with a working knowledge of Portuguese. I am now working in different research and/or support projects regarding Dual Language Education in Iowa. I aim to achieve a better understanding of teachers’ needs in Dual Language Programs and develop a good instructional model for teachers’ improvement and professional development. As a graduate student, I have also complemented my student role at the University of Iowa with my responsibilities as a Spanish Language Teacher Assistant (T.A.) for six semesters, and as a Spanish Department Level Supervisor for two semesters.

Katherine H. Priske

Ph.D. Program

Katie Priske is a PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program and is also currently enrolled in the teacher education program to get her secondary teaching license. Her areas of research specialization include young adult literature, feminism, reader response theory, and critical youth students

Kelli A. Rushek

Ph.D. Student

Kelli A. Rushek is a PhD. candidate in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. Her research examines how early career English teachers teach about race in schools within systems of neoliberal discourse and shifting demographics. She was a secondary English teacher in Chicago Public Schools for ten years, and her research is available in the journals Linguistics and Education and Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education among others. In the fall of 2020 she is teaching Reading and Teaching Adolescent Literature and Teaching Reading in the Content Areas. She also is a co-chair of the Professional Development committee of the AERA Graduate Student Executive Board.

Bianca Schamberger

Ph.D. Student

With a Magister Artium in political sciences, intercultural communication, and philosophy from LMU Munich (Germany) and a MAT in secondary social studies education from the University of Iowa, Bianca is a former high school social studies teacher in European and international schools within Germany. Her teaching spanned all subjects (economics, history, geography, integrated humanities, government, sociology, ethics) and all grade levels from 6-12, including higher and standard level courses in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Bianca is back at Iowa in the LCLE PhD program to expand her teaching experience to the collegiate level and get ready to help future teachers be successful in their classrooms and schools. To this effect, Bianca is looking forward to teaching in the Social Studies Education program and contribute research in the fields of Advanced Placement teaching as well as collegiate teacher education

Annette Vernon

Ph.D. Student

After teaching English for Academic Purposes to university students in China for two years, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. and accepted an offer of admission from the University of Iowa. Before I began teaching, I attended the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and earned my MA in TESOL. I am from Upstate New York and studied at SUNY Albany for my bachelor’s degree. Between my undergraduate and master’s studies, I spent a year in the Netherlands as part of a cultural exchange. While there I studied Dutch, which is where my passion for second language teaching and learning developed. During my free time, I enjoy crocheting, sewing, baking, reading novels, spending time outside, and lending a hand on my partner’s organic vegetable farm.

Fang Wang

Ph.D. Program

Before coming to the US, I was an EFL teacher at an English institute in China. In 2013, I started my masters program in TESOL at University of Rochester. Since then, I have been working as an ESL instructor at non-profit organizations, local elementary schools, and in an Intensive English program. I joined the PhD program in Foreign Language and ESL Education at The University of Iowa in 2015 with a research interest in second language reading and writing assessment. In the summer of 2017, I was a test development intern at Educational Testing Service (ETS) and a research intern at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). My current research is focused on reading and writing relationships in non-academic contexts. In my spare time, I love traveling and camping.

Lisa Wymore

Ph.D. Program

I am originally from Nebraska but have lived in Iowa for many years. I completed my B.A. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and M.A.E. in Elementary Reading and Language Arts with a focus on Bilingual Education from the University of Northern Iowa. I spent numerous years as an ESL/Bilingual teacher. During that time, I helped establish the district’s two-way dual language program, taught literacy and math in English and Spanish, and served as the district coordinator of ESL & Dual Language Programs. In addition to my doctoral studies at the University of Iowa, I work as a consultant for English language learners/Title III with an Area Education Agency. I am interested in bilingual education, assessment, literacy development, and preparation and professional learning for K-12 teachers working with English learners.

Yafei Ye

Ph.D. Program

I’m from Henan, China. I earned my M.A. in TESOL from University of Delaware in 2014 and started working as an ESL instructor and Lab assistant at its English Language Institute after graduation. I’m currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Foreign Language and ESL Education at the University of Iowa. And I’m working as a research assistant for the ACCEL project. My research interests include second language acquisition, language transfer, teacher education, and English writing. During my free time, I love hanging out with my friends and playing sports like table tennis, tennis, badminton, etc. I’m also learning skateboarding.

Please note that this list does not include every current graduate student in our program.

Please contact Dr. David Cassels Johnson if you would like to add or update your information on this page.